When someone you love is living with dementia, the holidays can feel overwhelming and difficult to navigate. At the same time, a person living with memory loss may feel a sense of disappointment or confusion during the holidays because of the changes he or she are experiencing. For this reason, it’s important that family members find ways to modify holiday traditions so that they are enjoyable and comfortable for all. Here are some practical ways to celebrate the holiday season when your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Set realistic expectations.
In preparation for holiday gatherings, meet with other family members to discuss your aging loved one’s cognitive changes. Set realistic expectations about what your loved one can handle, and plan a celebration in a familiar, calming environment that will work best for their needs. This might mean hosting a small gathering with close family in your home or attending a holiday celebration at your loved one’s senior living community. By thinking through stressful scenarios ahead of time, you can help prevent and mitigate any issues that arise.
Maintain your loved one’s routine.
People with dementia thrive on consistency and routine. Respecting your loved one’s normal schedule will help keep the holidays from becoming overly stressful or confusing. For instance, if your aging loved one is easily agitated in the evening, host a mid-day holiday lunch rather than a late dinner. By maintaining routine as much as possible, you can provide your loved one with a sense of comfort and control.
Keep gatherings small.
Large holiday parties can cause a lot of stress and confusion for someone with dementia. Consider keeping gatherings small and intimate to avoid overstimulating your older loved one. It can also be helpful to designate a separate room in the house as a quiet place where your loved one can retreat if they need a break from the crowds and commotion.
Involve your loved one as much as possible.
You can help provide a sense of purpose by involving your loved one in safe and simple holiday activities. Some suggestions include:
- Bake and decorate cookies
- Listen to holiday music
- Hang ornaments on the tree
- Wrap presents together
- Drive around to look at holiday light displays
- Reminisce about holidays past by looking at old photos or videos
Compassionate Memory Care for Seniors at Vista Grande Villa
When spending time with your older loved one this holiday season, you may realize that they could benefit from a higher level of care than you and other family members can provide. One of the best ways to support a family member with dementia is to get them professional care in a community setting that will maximize their cognitive abilities while helping them retain their independence.
At Vista Grande Villa, we take the health and happiness of our residents very seriously—and the holidays are no exception. If you would like to learn more about the best ways to cope with dementia during the holidays or to schedule a tour of our memory care facility, contact us today!